Chelsea 0:1 Leicester City
A superb 63rd minute strike from Youri Tielemans sealed a 1-0 win against Chelsea in the FA Cup Final on Saturday. After losing four finals, City’s name was on the Cup this time round and they survived a dramatic late twist when a Wes Morgan own goal was ruled out for offside by VAR. At the 121st attempt, Leicester City finally lifted the FA CUP!
There was an inauspicious start to what turned into a glorious day, with long queues waiting in a downpour for the compulsory buses. As the fans got wetter they will have been acutely aware that Chelsea, much improved under Thomas Tuchel, were the bookies clear favourites against a City side who were looking like a punishing season had been catching up with them in recent weeks.
But with the buses arriving at Wembley around four hours before kick off, Wembley Way filled up with almost exclusively Leicester fans and the atmosphere soon began to build. For the Chelsea fans it was a much more routine affair having made it to four out of the last five finals and they were last in and, as it turned out, first out.
Across London, those pubs with outdoor facilities were rammed with fans, most of whom would be watching City in an FA Cup Final for the first time. And as the beer flowed, the confidence began to grow. With the failed ESL project still fresh in the memory it appeared that City had the backing of the nation.
Despite the reduced numbers, the noise in the Leicester end was incredible. The lucky ticket holders knew they were representing all our supporters everywhere and City were roared onto the field. Unfolding before us were the things you normally watch on the TV, ‘Abide With Me’, the National Anthem and Prince William meeting the sides.
The big team news was that Jonny Evans had been declared fit to resume directorship of City’s defence, Pérez got a starting place with Maddison on the bench, and Syston’s Luke Thomas was to start an FA Cup Final at the age of 19.
The sides kicked off under grey skies that would later produce a deluge, City in their unbeaten burgundy, and Chelsea in next season’s 60s pop art inspired curiosity.
It was Chelsea who did the early probing, twice trying to utilise Werner’s pace down the right, but his first cross was claimed by Schmeichel and the second blocked by Evans. Alonso then almost got in down the left before Fofana blocked him off. Chelsea then forced a couple of corners before City managed to go forward, but Vardy was shouldered off the ball by James.
As the rain began to pour down Rüdiger attempted a low 30-yarder that went comfortably wide.
City went forward again in the 15th minute and Castagne, beats Alonso and sent in a low cross but Vardy’s first-time shot was blocked by James.
City got another opportunity from a set-piece in the 20th minute, when a Silva handball stopped Iheanacho from going through. Tielemans free kick found Söyüncü’s head but he sent his effort over, possibly put off by a spectacular Evans overhead fresh air shot.
Three minutes later Mount found some room on the edge of the area, but his shot got a slight nick off Fofana and went narrowly wide. Werner then charged down the middle but sent a long range effort sailing well over the bar.
Chelsea got closer in the 29th minute when a chip from Silva to the far post looked destined for Azpilicueta four yards out, but a nod from Werner took it out of his path.
There was a setback for City in the 32nd minute when Evans, who had looked to be struggling for a while, had to concede defeat to his troublesome heel. Albrighton came on and Castagne dropped back. The game then got a bit fiesty with Fofana seeing yellow for a foul on Werner and then Werner was also booked for a nasty challenge on Thomas. The German’s frustration had grown when he had two shots blocked by Fofana in quick succession.
A Jorginho foul on Pérez led to Tielemans’ free kick being glanced wide by Söyüncü.
At the other end a wayward pass from Albrighton sent Werner through but he shot wide.
When Vardy nodded wide from a clever Tielemans lob a half of no shots on target was completed.
Chelsea had been the better side, but had nothing to show for it.
It was a more even start to the second half. Vardy chased a long ball forward but was beaten to it by Kepa and then a Kante cross was nodded goalwards by Alonso, but straight into Schmeichel’s hands.
City built up their first spell of pressure, with a couple of Tielemans crosses causing the Chelsea defence problems and then Rüdiger sliced an Albrighton cross out for a corner. Although the short corner was wasted, we didn’t have long to wait for one of the all-time great FA Cup Final goals.
In the 63rd minute a ball forward from James was blocked by Pérez. Thomas fed the loose ball to Tielemans, who strode forwards towards goal before launching an unstoppable shot into the top left hand corner.
There were frantic scenes in the Leicester end and the expressions on the fans’ faces showed that the prospect of City winning the Cup was now frighteningly real. Chelsea’s protests that Pérez has handled when blocking the ball were waved away.
Brendan Rodgers made his second change in the 67th minute, bringing Maddison on for Iheanacho. A minute later Tuchel brought Ziyech and Chilwell on for Pulisic and Alonso. Chilwell’s every touch was booed. Fans were back at the football!
City sat back, while Chelsea probed and Schmeichel had to be smart to come out and challenge Mount. There was a break in play when Thomas and Azpilicueta clashed head and the doctors were summoned to look at the City teenager, who recovered.
Chelsea went close in the 78th minute when Kante chipped across the area and Chilwell nodded the ball towards the bottom left corner, but Schmeichel produced a superb save to touch it onto the post.
With City now all about defending Brendan Rodgers made a double change in the 82nd minute, bringing Choudhury and Morgan on for Thomas and Pérez.
City were penned into their own area as full-time slowly approached and Schmeichel produced a world class save in the 87th minute. A James ball into the area sat up nicely for Mount but his fiercely struck shot from 15 yards was somehow tipped away by Schmeichel at full stretch.
With nerves jangling and City fans watching through their fingers, it appeared for a horrible moment that Chelsea had forced the game to extra time with an 89th minute goal. Silva played a long ball into the box and Chilwell raced in behind the defence to make contact. Söyüncü cleared the ball off the line, but it bounced off Morgan and into the net. The Leicester end felt like spewing as the players lined up for the kick off, but before a VAR check was announced on the screens some fans noticed Gary Lineker gesticulating up in the studio. There was still hope.
After a truly agonising wait, VAR pronounced that Chilwell had been offside and the roar was as loud as for the goal.
City coped well in the 5 minutes of added time and the final whistle was like the sweetest music.
It was fifth time lucky for City, who had finally won an FA Cup Final.
The City players cavorted around on the pitch in stark contrast to their Chelsea counterparts standing stock still at the other end and the Leicester end was a sea of tears and bear hugs.
Kasper Schmeichel was presented with the trophy by Prince William before mayhem ensued with the trophy lift that was engulfed by silver streamers. Schmeichel, a day-glo green frenetic bundle of energy then raced down the tunnel to go and fetch Top from his solitude in the stands to join in with the celebrations.
Brendan Rodgers, having recovered from being thrown into the air by his players, commented: “It is such an amazing feeling, in particular as a British coach. I have grown up watching this all my life and to be eventually be here and be a winner in the FA Cup is special. I knew we had prepared very well. The players have shown through the season they can fight, have quality and have a desire to win. We were playing against the Champions League finalists, with quality and the level they have been at. But I thought tactically we were brilliant.”
Chelsea fans may have issue with the handball, and Chilwell’s tight offside, but City’s name was on the Cup and the football gods decided that an 89th minute Wes Morgan own goal would have been too cruel for a club and a set of fans who so desperately wanted to complete the set of League, FA Cup and League Cup.
It took one of the best goals, and best saves in FA Cup Final history.
And this was the day we did it.
Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, James, Thiago Silva, Rüdiger, Azpilicueta (Hudson-Odoi 76), Kanté, Jorginho (Havertz 75), Alonso (Chilwellat 68), Ziyech, Pulisic 68), Mount, Werner (Giroudat 82).
Substitutes: Zouma, Mendy, Gilmour, Emerson.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Fofana, Evans (Albrighton 34), Söyüncü, Castagne, Tielemans, Ndidi, Thomas (Morgan 82), Pérez (Choudhury 82), Iheanacho (Maddison 67), Vardy.
Substitutes: Albrighton, Ward, Amartey, Ricardo, Mendy, Praet.
Referee: Michael Oliver. Attendance 21,000.
It’s not too late to subscribe to The FOX for the 2020/21 season.
You will receive all the issues to date in the post, and then the rest of the season’s issues on publication date.
You can pay online via Paypal…
FOX Subs 2020-21 – UK click HERE.
FOX Subs 2020-21 – Europe click HERE.
FOX Subs 2020-21 – Rest of the World click HERE.
You can also buy The FOX 221, the latest issue, on its own HERE.